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[personal profile] entropic_system
I suspect this one will make the rounds today.

Warning: The video's graphic. Like [livejournal.com profile] jodfoster, the transcript is here: Transcript.

"Cry 'Havoc', and let slip the dogs of war, that this foul deed shall smell above the earth with carrion men, groaning for burial."

Julius Caesar ~ Shakespeare

"My answer is bring 'em on."

President George W. Bush ~ July 2, 2003

I've been listening to this report on the BBC for most of the morning. It's hard to listen to, for a variety of reasons.

I have never been in the military, I have never killed anyone, but having grown up with a parent in the military, I guess I could say that I understand the military mindset. The fact that my dad could have been a person in Iraq, actually was in Iraq for six months a couple years ago, brings it home.

This is not a war of fighting Nazis, marching in rank, driving in obvious German Panzer tanks across the fields of France: the insurgents of Iraq dress like civilians. They hide among the civilian populations. That's the point of being an insurgent: blend in, hide in the open.

America did this in our own war against Britain, to a lesser extent.

But to do that means the line between 'civilian' and 'soldier' is blurred. Blurred to the point where a snap-decision can kill a bomb-maker or kill two children in the front seat of a dark van.

Listening to BBC, they did a good job of getting both sides, but they had no bridge. The military commentator simply kept stating variations of: "It's war;" while the civilian who broke the story kept stating variations of: "The US military is desensitized and bloodthirsty."

Both are too simplistic.

For the military point of view, 2007 was a different time - it was at the height of the Surge and the war had been seeing high casualties from road-side bombs and from (civilian-dressed) insurgents. When there was a chance to actually shoot back at the enemy? They took it.

The Apache, the attack helicoptor the scene is viewed from, spots a large group of people in a courtyard (outside a mosque, it looks like). People will see what they want to see.

The order of "Stay firm" comes from what I assume is the equivalent of ground control, someone back in the Green Zone, likely, watching the video feed in real time. He was likely a person trained to spot weapons, but also a person looking for weapons.

He didn't have the benefit of an arrow and text stating "Camera." He had a blurry image of a dark object slung over a shoulder.

He had a person that was carrying an assault rifle. One of the group had an RPG. It was in a 'hot zone,' an area where there was active combat in the area.

He put 2 and 2 together. Unfortunately, 2 and 2 didn't equal 4, this time.

People will see what they want to see, what they think they should see. In this case, he saw a long black tube-like object on the back of two of the people. He saw at least one person with an AK (3:45-3:50 in the video - not obvious in stills, but watching the video, yeah: pretty obvious).

Whoever that person was did not have an endless amount of time to analyze video. They saw a person with an AK-47 (around 3:45-3:50, the guy in the middle of the three guys). They saw dark objects on slings.

They saw RPGs.

They saw the people that were killing Americans and Iraqis, both. They saw the people that were keeping the war going.

In that moment, those people became "the enemy." This is war. This is what war is: you kill as many of "them" as you can until they stop fighting, either because they no longer have the will to fight, or because there are none left to fight.

It's why Sherman, who burned all of Atlanta to the ground, stated: "War is Hell."

So the military commentator was correct: there were no war crimes here - only war. And war is horrible. Those reporters knew it was going to be dangerous - they knew they could be killed.

It is a tribute to them, as well, that they were willing to risk their lives to tell their stories. It is a tragedy they died. They were in that neighborhood because they had heard about the fighting and were going to report on it.

As I write this, those same insurgents that those Apache pilots thought they were shooting at blew up seven apartment buildings of civilians. At least forty-nine civilians were killed by their own countrymen simply to stir up religious tensions. Countless were injured.

And that, unlike the Apache attack, was not a mistake in target.

Does this justify the war? Does this justify the mistake of killing reporters in a war-zone?

No. No, there is no excuse for war: it is the last tool of diplomacy. The point where two people (or nations of people) cannot solve their problems rationally, and one must be destroyed.

I hope we one day live in a world where war isn't necessary. I'm sure those who fight in them would agree more than anyone.

[edit: I'm leaving this post open to the public. I'll likely lock it down later, but for now, it's open. Keep it civil, please - we're friends here.]
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